Every year in March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. But did you know that the annual celebration began in Sonoma County?
In 1980, a group of Santa Rosa women formed the National Women’s History Project after noticing an absence of women in school textbooks: only 3% of the content was devoted to women throughout history and their achievements.
The National Women’s History Project (now known as the National Women’s History Alliance) mobilized and convinced Congress of the need to acknowledge and celebrate annually women’s role in history, leading to the first official National Women’s History Week during the week of March 8, 1980 (to coincide with International Women’s Day). Seven years later, the alliance led a successful campaign to officially declare the month of March as National Women’s History Month.
Since then, the alliance and institutions across the country celebrated women’s historical achievements every year. The theme for Women’s History Month changes annually and, over the years, more diverse perspectives have shaped the annual celebration. But the foremost goal of the month remains the same: to provide education on how women helped shape the nation and to empower children by introducing them to historical role models.
This year, the theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” recognizing the countless ways women from all cultures have provided healing and hope to the world throughout history and to this day.
Sonoma County will honor the month with various in-person and virtual events, exhibitions and group discussions. Here are a few ways to learn about and celebrate women’s history this month.
Advocating for Your Health: Conversations with Dr. Eki’Shola Edwards
In tune with this month’s theme of providing healing and promoting hope, the Sonoma County Regional Library will host an online conversation series with Dr. Eki’Shola Edwards, who will be offering advice on how to choose a primary care physician, navigate preventive health guidelines and advocate for yourself in healthcare. This presentation and Q&A series will be split into three parts: from 11-11:30 a.m. on March 11, March 16 and April. This virtual event is free, although registration is required.
Breathless ‘Demi’ Debut with Champagne, Charmian and Gold
Sister-owned Breathless Wines in Healdsburg is celebrating Women’s History Month with a release of its new demi (half) bottles of brut and brut rosé, along with a presentation and book signing by award-winning author Rebecca Rosenberg. Winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster will lead a tasting of the new wines and Rosenberg will present three notable women from history from her books “Champagne Widows,” “The Secret Life of Mrs. London” and “Gold Digger: The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor.” The event will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13, at the winery. Tickets are $49 and can be purchased on Tock.
499 Moore Lane, Healdsburg, 707-395-7300, breathlesswines.com
Bessie, Billie and Nina – Pioneering Women in Jazz
The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts will present a celebration in honor of three groundbreaking women in jazz — Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone — featuring dynamic vocalists and an all-female band. Singers Charenée Wade, Tahira Clayton and Vanisha Gould will perform classic songs from Smith, Holiday and Simone with arrangements by pianist and musical director Carmen Staff. The event will be held 7:30 p.m. March 22. Tickets are $35-49. Learn more and purchase tickets here.
50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-3600, lutherburbankcenter.org
Documentary Film Discussion Group: Miss Representation
The Sonoma County Library will host a virtual discussion highlighting the 2011 documentary “Miss Representation,” which exposes how the mainstream media has contributed to the underrepresentation of women in the film industry and in other positions of power. The Zoom event will be held 6-7 p.m. March 24. Register for the free event here.
STEAM Bilingual Storytime with Miss Kelly
The Sonoma County Library is celebrating Women’s History Month with a “Women in STEAM”-themed storytime and book giveaway. A children’s librarian will host the virtual storytime and do a random drawing from the attendee list to pick a winner for the book giveaway, which will include a bundle of five women’s history-themed books in a canvas tote bag. The event will be offered in English and Spanish from 10:30-11 a.m. March 30. Learn more and register for this free event here.
SRJC Women’s History Month – Honoring Women of the Resistance
Santa Rosa Junior College is hosting a variety of events for Women’s History Month, including engaging lectures and discussions with activists, directors, authors, doctors and professors spanning a variety of topics. All of the events will be held on Zoom and are free to the public. Learn more about each event and find the dates and Zoom links here.
“Agency: Feminist Art and Power”
The Museum of Sonoma County is currently presenting an exhibition in collaboration with The Feminist Art Project, curated by Karen M. Gutfreund. The exhibition, entitled “Agency: Feminist Art and Power,” features works from women of various cultural backgrounds and identities that explore the concept of individual agency while challenging societal norms. The exhibit will be on display throughout Women’s History Month and until June 5. Learn more about the exhibition here.
The curator also gives a tour of the exhibition every second Saturday of the month. The next tour will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 12. The tour is included with admission and no registration is required.
425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa, 707-579-1500, museumsc.org
Finding Our Roots: Women of Petaluma Flourishing and Blooming over the Years
The Petaluma Women’s Club and the Petaluma Garden Club have teamed up for a joint project at the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum that includs an exhibition entitled “Finding Our Roots: Women of Petaluma Flourishing and Blooming over the Years.” The exhibition will be on display at the Petaluma Museum from March 22 to April 22.
20 Fourth St., Petaluma, petalumamuseum.com